Here at Nature Travels we, perhaps not surprisingly, are all rather fond of outdoor kit. Over the years we’ve been lucky enough to have had the opportunity to use and test a wide range of clothing and gear, often from name brands.
While many of these offer excellent quality and performance, as considerations of brand name, fashion and style have become an integral part of the outdoor world in recent years just as they’ve always been for “normal” clothing, so branded goods normally come these days with a corresponding price tag.
But if what you really want is simply to keep warm/dry/comfortable when you’re in the outdoors (which after all is, we’d say, by far the most important thing), rather than impressing your social media friends with how stylish you’re looking or what the label says on your clothing, do you really have to spend a fortune?
This is particularly true of winter kit, where good quality items can not only be very expensive, but may also be something (depending on how you spend the majority of your holidays) that you won’t use that often.
So when the people from Flexitog – who specialise in cold-wear workplace clothing for industry but also have a range of leisurewear, including products specifically suitable for dog sledding – asked us to test some of their winter gloves, we were interested to see how these would match up against better-known (and far higher-priced) branded items.
We received three sets of gloves for test along with some glove liners:
- Men’s Maxim 625 gloves: These are flip-top mittens billed as gloves for working in freezer environments, but are also intended to be particularly suitable for dog sledding, when you need to free your fingers regularly during a tour to work with the dogs’ harnesses, etc, but also need to keep your hands warm. Current retail price £13.51 including VAT.
- Ladies’ Stockholm Mitt: General-purpose winter mitten in female sizing. Current price £22.99.
- Ice Mitt 660: General-purpose winter mitten in male sizing. Current price £22.74.
- Vostock 400N thermal liner gloves (to go inside any of the above): Current price £7.99.
It was getting late in the winter season this year when we received the gloves, but fortunately it’s been a long a lustrous winter in the Nordic countries, so when Sofia from the Nature Travels team headed to the mountains of Norway in late April for a week of outdoor activities, there was still plenty of snow about!
She took with her the Maxim flip-top gloves and the Ladies’ Stockholm Mitt. The itinerary for the week would include some dog sledding, snowshoeing and even a horse and sleigh activity, so there’d be plenty of opportunity to see how the gloves performed in winter conditions!
First up, the Maxims:
There’s no doubt that needing to have dexterity with your fingers whenever you’re working with dogs and sleds is a definite issue. Whether harnessing your team in the morning, untangling drag lines and fixing neck lines during the day or staking out the dogs on their night lines at the end of the day, you invariably end up taking your gloves off and just putting up with the fact that your hands will get progressively colder and colder until you’ve finished and can put your gloves back on again.
The Maxims offered a very good compromise, keeping the palms, wrists and base of the fingers warm but freeing your fingers to do the work. Unlike many other flip-top gloves, the mitten-top didn’t feel annoyingly in the way when in “fingerless” mode. In place, the mitten top does a fairly good job of sealing the glove and doesn’t allow too much cold air in through the gap, which can be another problem with flip-top gloves.
It would be unfair to expect the Maxims to be as warm as a pair of high-quality closed mittens or to be the only pair of gloves you’d take for use in extreme cold – they won’t be. But they were flexible, comfortable, and warm (particularly when used with the liner gloves) and worked very well indeed for dog sledding and other winter activities. Sofia particularly liked that they felt less clumsy and bulky than many other winter gloves. If you’re on a dogsled tour, very warm (and correspondingly bulky) mittens will normally be provided as standard in any case, so the Maxims make a great choice for your own gloves to bring with you.
Overall, we liked these very much and they’re destined to become a regular part of our packing for dogsled and other winter trips in the future. For £13.50 they are ridiculously good value and we felt we’d have to spend a lot more than that to get anything of equivalent quality from your typical outdoor store.
Now the Stockholm Ladies’ Mitt:
These are clearly meant more as leisure- than work-wear, being a very snazzy white. They are more stylish/fashionable than the Maxims, and were also warm and comfortable. There’s no doubt that the Maxims stole the show of the gloves on test, because of their suitability particularly for sledding and times when you need to free your fingers, but the Stockholm Mitts were also perfectly good – again, at £22 very good value compared to other alternatives.
We did feel that for outdoor activities, white might not be the best colour – we can imagine these will start to look a little grubby after a few more “poo patrols” on future dogsled tours!
Although Sofia didn’t have the chance to take the men’s Ice Mitt to Norway, these also look like they’ll offer decent performance, and again are excellent value at £22. They were also very comfortable, we liked the hard-wearing palm material, and the gloves give the impression they will last a while.
For high performance on a budget, the Flexitog gloves make a great choice, and we particularly liked the versatility of the Maxim flip-top gloves. For all the gloves tested, we’d recommend ordering a generous sizing, especially as it’s the air that keeps you warm, so you don’t want winter gloves to be too tight.
You won’t be cutting a stylish figure on the mountains with these – that’s not what they are intended for – and you probably wouldn’t use them on an expedition to Everest, but all the gloves tested offer a very good level of warmth, comfort and construction quality compared to others we’ve tried at anything like this price level.
Definitely recommended if you’re looking for affordable kit for your next winter adventure.
Flexitog gloves and other clothing are available from www.flexitog.com